Migraine affects 39 million people in the US and 1 billion worldwide. You may be suffering from migraine and not even realize it. Continue reading to learn about migraine, including its symptoms, causes, and triggers. Discover 14 natural ways to reduce migraine attacks and obtain quick migraine relief.
Migraine or headache, what's the difference?
There are many causes of a headache. Most are benign, episodic, and self limited. Most people occasionally experience a stress headache or tension headache. Some of us suffer from sinus headache or pressure. There are scary causes as well, which need prompt and definitive diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment. For example, an intracranial hemorrhage or a brain tumor.
Migraines cause debilitating headaches too. Additional symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sound, light, smell, or touch, as well as dizziness. Migraines may be accompanied or preceded by visual disturbances called auras.
Migraine is a neurological condition that impacts nerve pathways and brain chemicals. The frequency and intensity of migraines can vary greatly. A migraine can last for as little as 4 hours or can become chronic and relentless. Migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world.
Types of Migraine
Some of the most frequent types of migraine are chronic migraine, acute migraine, vestibular migraine, optical migraine, complex migraine, menstrual migraine, acephalgic migraine, hormonal migraine, and stress migraine.
What are some migraine risk factors and triggers?
Pinpointing the cause of a migraine is usually difficult and frustrating. The reason for this is that migraines are the end result of many different causes and pathways. Many different factors and triggers may lead to a migraine. These include underlying central nervous disorders, brain blood vessel system irregularities, brain or nerve abnormalities, or genetic predisposition.
Several things may trigger a migraine headache:
- Changes in the chemical composition of the brain
- Extreme weather or barometric pressure
- Dehydration or skipping meals
- Certain foods or medications
- Certain/unusual smells
- Lack of sleep
- Sun glare or bright lights
Risk factors for migraine include age, gender, and family history. Many people report that their first migraine likely appeared in adolescence. 85% of chronic migraine sufferers are women. More than half of all migraine sufferers are never diagnosed. If you have family members that suffer from migraine, your chances of struggling with migraine increase. About 90% of migraine sufferers have a family member with migraine.
What are the common symptoms of migraine?
Migraine symptoms present themselves in different stages:
Prodrome stage symptoms tend to present themselves before the migraine pain settles in. The symptoms that you may see are depression and fatigue. You may also see irritability, hyperactivity, and excessive yawning. The prodrome stage can also have physical symptoms like neck stiffness and constipation. It is possible to crave unusual foods before the onset of a migraine.
The aura stage occurs between the prodrome and the attack stage. This stage causes issues with vision, movement, speech, and sensations. It's possible to have the headache pain begin in this stage.
During a migraine attack, the debilitating headache pain seeps in. The pain often settles on one side of the head behind the eye or the ear. But in about one third of all cases, a migraine affects both sides. The pain can be throbbing or pulsing. This head-splitting pain comes with several other debilitating symptoms, including:
- Sensitivity to sound and/or light
- Nausea and vomiting
When the migraine symptoms finally begin to subside (postdrome), you may spend the next day or so recovering. You may feel physically drained, mentally confused, or flat-out washed out.
How Are Migraines Diagnosed?
Sadly, migraines often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. As a result, migraine sufferers may not be getting the right treatment before and during a migraine attack. Keeping a record of your headaches and associated symptoms would be very helpful to your doctor to diagnose you with migraine. Sharing your family history of migraine with your physician would also aid your physician to make the correct diagnosis.
What tests are used to find out if you have migraine?
Migraines are diagnosed clinically, based on the story you tell your physician, your family history, and your physical exam. There is no imaging study or laboratory value that can diagnose a migraine. Your neurologist may perform a CT or MRI to rule out other diagnoses that might be causing your pain (for example, intracranial hemorrhage or a brain tumor). That is usually done only if the clinical history or physical exam are concerning to your physician. Advanced medial imaging is helpful to exclude alternative diagnoses that may account for your signs or symptoms and need to be addressed. Otherwise, medical imaging plays no direct role in the diagnosis of your migraine.
Once the diagnosis of migraine is made, your doctor will prescribe both preventive and pain relief methods to help manage your migraines and their dreadful symptoms. In addition to traditional medicines, you may want to seek out alternative tools such as ginger, vitamin B, magnesium, butterbur and feverfew.
What are some ways you can prevent migraine?
There are measures that you can take to prevent migraines before they take over your life.
If you have more than 15 migraine days each month, it may be time to consider preventive measures. Your doctor may prescribe a medication that you take daily to keep the migraines at bay. If you do not want to take a preventative medicine due to unwanted side effects, your doctor can prescribe a medication that you take at the first signs of a migraine to help ease the symptoms.
Medication alone may not be enough to prevent or reduce the effects of a migraine attack, so you might consider some additional treatment options including acupuncture, exercise, yoga, meditation and hot/cold therapy.
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine method for pain relief. It involves skin pricks that are meant to stimulate the nerves that may be causing your migraine symptoms. Utilizing acupuncture can also help to promote blood flow and oxygen flow through the body.
Regular physical activity can help your body to release certain chemicals that naturally block pain by sending the right signals to your brain. It can also help to improve anxiety and depression symptoms that can make your migraine worse. If you find that your migraines are caused by stress or anxiety, consider doing yoga.
Mindfulness is the ability to focus on the current moment, letting go of your past and your worries for the future. Practicing meditation and mindfulness can lower your stress levels, help you relax, support your body's ability to handle pain and help you deal with the disruption that migraine brings to daily life. Learning mindfulness and getting to know your body can help you to relax and actually prevent migraines over time.
Many health problems stem from not having enough water in the body for it to function properly. Dehydration is one of the most prevalent triggers of migraine attacks. It is crucial that you make hydrating a priority in your daily life. In fact, dehydration may be life-threatening. Drinking more water and eating foods that have a higher water content, like fruits and veggies, can help you to stay hydrated and stave off possible migraines.
Eat well-balanced meals. When you maintain a proper diet, you may prevent migraines from coming. Sugar, caffeine, and additives found in food and drinks can cause migraines. If this is the case, avoiding them is your best bet to keep them away.
Staying on a regular sleep routine can help you to head off against migraine. While this means getting enough sleep, this can also mean avoiding food close to bedtime and taking a break from electronics for an hour or so before hitting the hay.
Ginger is a terrific supplement to add to your migraine kit. A study of 100 people in a double-blind, randomized trial compared ginger powder to sumatriptan (a prescription migraine medicine). The researchers found that ginger powder is statistically comparable to sumatriptan for migraine pain relief. Ginger helps reduce nausea and vomiting. Ginger increases serotonin, which helps lower inflammation and constrict blood vessels.
A research review published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research suggests that Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) can reduce frequency and duration of migraine attacks without serious side effects. Deficiencies of this vitamin have been associated with more frequent and more intense migraine attacks. If you are deficient in vitamin B-2, you may want to consider eating more eggs, fish, avocado, meat and poultry or supplementing this important vitamin.
Research supports the importance of magnesium in preventing migraine. A lack of sufficient magnesium has been associated with migraine headaches. Nuts, grains, black beans and cereals are rich in magnesium. If you need more, a daily magnesium supplement could help you reduce the intensity and frequency of your migraine attacks.
Butterbur appears to reduce the frequency of migraine. The American Academy of Neurology recommends it's use in preventing migraine attacks. Some butterbur supplements can be harmful because they contain chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). PAs can damage the liver and lungs. PAs may possibly cause cancer. Only butterbur products that have been processed to remove PAs and that are certified as PA-free should be considered for use.
Feverfew is a flowering plant in the daisy family and is an herbal remedy used to prevent migraine headaches. Benefits include it's anti-inflammatory properties. However, results of research studies are mixed with some studies finding that feverfew is only slightly better than a placebo effect for reducing migraines.
How can I treat my migraine headache?
Unfortunately, migraine attacks occur, even if you are doing everything that you can to prevent them. Hormonal changes, stress at work, lack of sleep, an unexpected dietary migraine trigger - any of these may set off a migraine. It happens to every migraine sufferer . When you feel another migraine attack coming, you need to treat your migraine symptoms as soon as possible.
Take Pain Relief Medication & Relax Your Body
Your doctor may prescribe painkiller or other medication (such as a triptan, for example) to take when your migraine starts as a way to ease the symptoms and get you back on your feet sooner than not taking anything at all. If not, there are over-the-counter medications available for migraine headache relief.
While getting enough sleep can help you prevent migraines from the get-go, taking a nap during a migraine can help you to reduce the migraine pain and start feeling better. Lay down in a dark and quiet room. Blocking out all noise and light can also help to mute the worsening of a migraine.
Heat therapy with a microwavable heating pad or warm eye compress
Incorporating a Huggaroo microwaveable heating pad into your acute migraine relief routine can help to alleviate the headache symptoms associated with your migraine. The Huggaroo Soothe microwave heating pad is ideal for headache relief because it can be secured comfortably around your head with a hook and loop fastener. It's available unscented or with lavender aromatherapy. It can help ease muscle tension and stress, soothe a severe headache, ease eye and temple pain, relax tired eyes. It's a fantastic, drug-free, pleasant natural remedy.
A Huggaroo neck heating pad is an excellent tool for your migraine kit. This weighted heating pad fits snugly around your neck and shoulders and provides deep, soothing heat to tense, sore muscles and helps you relax and unwind. Use this daily to keep your neck and shoulders relaxed and pain free. Using a heating pad for muscle relaxation is an easy, pleasant, and drug-free migraine prevention strategy. It may help you decrease your migraine frequency. A migraine may start with tension and stiffness in the neck. Our microwaveable neck wraps can be used to soothe this tension and help you feel more comfortable. At the first sign of neck or head pain, heat up your Huggaroo neck wrap and take a few minutes to close your eyes, breathe deeply through your nose and relax. This simple preventative step may help you to avert an oncoming migraine.
The Huggaroo Gem Warm and Cold Eye Compress is great for soothing achy, tired eyes. It is weighted for deep, yet gentle pressure. This eye mask is adjustable with a hook and loop fastener so you can have it as snug or as loose as you'd like. It is reversible with a slick, cold silky side and a cozy, warm fleece side. This eye mask can be used hot or cold. Keep the gel pack in your freezer for when you're ready for it. The weighted insert of clay beads can be easily heated in your microwave for warm relaxation. If you would like additional aromatherapy benefits, there is also a lavender-infused version of this eye compress. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find a dark enough space when you are struggling with a migraine. The Huggaroo Gem eye mask thoroughly blocks the light from your surroundings and can help you relax, and let go of tension. Soothing heat and total darkness over the eyes is relaxing and effective for aura symptom and headache treatment.
Cold Therapy with a Gel Ice Pack
The use of ice packs to provide cold therapy is one of the most common self-care migraine treatment. In 1849, James Arnott used ice packs to treat migraine and for 150 years people suffering from migraine have been using the same treatment. Several research studies such as this randomized control trial on neck cooling in migraine patients report that cold therapy can decrease inflammation and provide effective pain relief. This study on cold therapy in migraine patients found that cold packs were helpful in about 71% of headache cases. Ice packs can help numb the pain as they reduce the swelling. The Huggaroo Ice Comfort cold compress has nine ice packs and provides quick, drug-free relief for headache pain. It has an adjustable hook and loop fastener for a perfect fit. It is reversible with a silky, extra cold side and a fluffy, cozy side for lighter, more gentle cold therapy.
You Are Not Alone
If you are suffering from chronic headache, please know you are not alone. Reach out. There are lots of migraine support groups online that share tools and tips for dealing with frequent headache and migraine. My Chronic Brain is a free, digital magazine for chronic migraine patients with helpful, insightful information.Please do not suffer alone. It is worth it to reach out to your doctor today about the steps that you can take to help mediate your migraine. The sooner you have that conversation, the sooner you will be able to find some relief. Consider a Huggaroo microwavable heating pad for your head, a microwavable neck and shoulder wrap for tense muscles, or a weighted eye mask as natural remedies to help alleviate your migraine symptoms today. Feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have about Huggaroo's products. We are happy to help.